Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Importance for Jewish Men to Learn all the Laws of Family Purity (Part 2)

If you're joining us for this series, please read Part 1 before continuing.

Today out topic is:

Family Purity - and The Anticipated Menstruation

Remember, we're focusing on why it's so important that all Jewish men familiarise themselves thoroughly with the laws of Family Purity. Many feel it's just not for them to know laws that seem to be for women only. This is not true. Jewish men must become completely familiar with these laws - as much as women. The marriage should be seen as being as important to the man as it is to the woman. If he's not showing his readiness to understand these laws, something will be lacking from the marriage. Knowing these laws means that he'll be able to add something to the marriage - something that might well make the difference between a home filled with peace and a home (unnecessarily) lacking it.

Let's take a look at the importance of understanding the laws of the anticipated menstruation – not from the women's point of view – but from the husband's! 

Once a woman has a cycle she must immediately take note of the day and time this occurs. This information is needed in order to prepare her for the possibility of her next cycle. There are different ways of calculating these times (for another article), but let's take it as the norm that the woman must already document that after her cycle and purity (Mikvah immersion) she may already have to prepare for another cycle, should she not fall pregnant. 

What does a husband stand to gain by knowing the laws for these calculations?

The most basic reason for learning these laws is that he can support his wife in working through the calculations together – should she need this. At the start of a marriage (in particular!) a woman – even after a series of Kallah lessons, may feel so overwhelmed with the laws, that she forgets what to do! She can always ask her Kallah teacher to help her go over the material again (or she can read it through in a good book.) But when the stress of the cycle happens, she may panic. Imagine the frustration a woman feels when she turns to her husband (embarrassed!) explaining to him that she has no idea how to calculate her next anticipated cycle! She needs his time… She need him to turn to her and be able to say that he cares about her following these laws – for both of them.

At this point, however, many husbands will attack their wives, complaining that they did not study well enough. Thereafter there will be further disharmony in the relationship (already – at such an early stage in the marriage!) She may feel alienated from her husband and may even (intentionally or unintentionally) make an error – calculating the wrong day. Having a separation day when it is not required can be just as problematic as not having the day when it is required! After all, why the need to lose out on a day of intimacy just because of a miscalculation?! On the other hand, the possible problem of being intimate on a day that is forbidden can make for a disaster!

A man should be comfortable enough with his knowledge of the calculations to be able to guide his wife if she is in need of assistance. He may feel like it's a drag for him to have to learn some laws which he feels are only relevant to his wife (apparently a time waster for him.) In the long run however, his knowledge of these laws, may well make the difference of a strong caring marriage, rather than a marriage (of strife) where the husband lacks the time to assist his wife in fulfilling what may be perhaps the most important laws in the Jewish home.

For those men that feel purity in their Jewish home is important, consider this: Not being proficient in these laws, may well set the stage for a wife who feels so left out and unwanted, that she could choose to simply make things up in order to show externally that she is trying. It won't help much if she's off though – and ultimately may lead to a lackadaisical attitude towards these laws - altogether. In such an instance, both husband and wife then stand the chance of being involved in a variety of Aveirahs. While the husband may well think he is doing the right thing – his wife may one day turn around bitterly explaining how she never understood the laws properly and never actually fulfilled them. One may wonder then (once that moment is realised) – if the husband will be as enthusiastic with his response that it was all up to his wife! 

No man can do without learning about the laws of the anticipated menstruation. To feel that Chatan classes without these laws is good enough to start one's marriage is an irresponsible approach for the Chatan towards his wife and family. Ultimately one's wife may well one day lose out. In turn the husband will lose out too. And in turn, a marriage may even fall apart. 

If you're serious about maintaining the laws of Family Purity in your home, make sure – if you are a man – to become fluent in these laws. A husband should be familiar with these laws well enough to be able to teach them over to someone else if need be. It may well show your spouse just how much you appreciate her efforts in maintaining a truly pure Jewish home and encourage her to stay strong in observing these laws.

  1. Shows an attitude of care
  2. Will bring Shalom Bayit at a time of extreme frustration
  3. Makes the husband aware that his wife is taking this Mitzvah seriously
  4. Makes the husband aware of just how important these laws are
  5. Makes the husband aware that his wife cares about his spiritual well-being as much as she cares about her own
  6. Reduces the chances of mistakes being made (especially at the start of the marriage)

  1. It takes time to calculate the dates. Give your wife the alone time she may need to sit down and make sure she's doing them correctly
  2. Dinner may have to wait an extra five-ten minutes…
  3. Don't be irritated if your wife has lost her way in doing the calculations
  4. Be there for your wife – if she needs you (and even if "she doesn't"!
  5. Never put the entire focus of this Mitzvah on your wife. It's your Mitzvah too


None! You'll be learning Torah. You'll be able to help your wife if she needs it. You'll be paving the way for true Shalom Bayit!

** If you are getting married soon or looking to refresh your knowledge of these laws, contact Rav Eliyahu for Chatan Lessons or Shoshanah for Kallah Lessons, or email Rav Eliyahu or Shoshanah directly. 

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